Dancing Tao

picture of clyde smith, director of dancing tao

Clyde Smith, Director of Dancing Tao

About Dancing Tao

Dancing Tao is my concept for an approach to movement and meditation that integrates my work with dance, somatics and Taoist practices.  This site traces the various influences that I have tried to bring together as well as the story of my development.

Although I had earlier experiences of dance and meditation, I began my dance training in earnest in 1977 as a freshman at UNC-Greensboro.  There I studied many forms of dance with modern and postmodern techniques at the center of my activities.  I also began accumulating various injuries as well as being faced with the limits of my own understanding of the physical and spiritual worlds.

In 1980 I spent a year at SUNY-Purchase in the dance program where I was introduced to Alexander Technique by Sarah Stackhouse as a way of reworking my movement patterns.  This experience helped me a lot with my injuries and started me into serious work in somatics.  I was also introduced to a Japanese meditation technique by a woman whose name I forget.  I am very grateful to Sarah and to my meditation teacher for being there when I needed them.

I continued dancing and meditating and not dancing and not meditating for the rest of the 80s, moved to San Francisco in 89 and danced with The High Risk Group.  I immersed myself in alternative culture in a way that went even deeper than I could in North Carolina.  It felt like home in many ways but I eventually left to pursue graduate studies in 1992.

My graduate work ultimately took me to Ohio State University where I began to study and then teach tai chi and yoga in the physical education department.  This experience was often quite wonderful and my interest in tai chi led me to Mantak Chia's Universal Tao/Healing Tao system.  I found that Taoism and Taoist practices answered many unresolved questions I had about practical work with energy.

This work inspired me to explore ways to connect my prior activities in dance, that I had mostly abandoned by this point, with my work in tai chi, chi kung and meditation.  Along the way the name Dancing Tao emerged and began to signify numerous disconnected threads of my experience that I wished to knit together. 

When I graduated in 2000 with a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies in Education and no job in sight, I began to consider the possibility of building a teaching practice as a way of earning a living, doing something useful in the world and continuing my personal growth.  Dancing Tao seemed like the way to go and in the fall of 2001 I moved to Austin, Texas where a friend of mine had invited me to stay for a while.  Austin seemed workable and full of interesting people who cared about the kinds of things that I cared about and so I rented space and offered some classes independently as well as in a continuing ed program at UT Austin.

These experiences made me realize that Dancing Tao could be done, that it would take quite a while and that I did not want to pursue this project as a business.  The experience was positive in that it helped me clarify things that I do need or at least want to do right now.  In fact, the last few years have been about thoroughly looking at possibilities and turning away from many of them, not in defeat but with a sense of clarity about where I wanted to go.

I continue to personally explore elements of Dancing Tao and it's an idea that others relate to so I've created this site, not as a marketing device, but as a way of passing on some of my own discoveries and sharing my influences.  You can take them as you will and I imagine that many people will mix them in to what they're doing in unexpected ways that I couldn't anticipate.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you find this project worth your time and attention. - Clyde

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